…is that you can say pretty much anything you want and think you are right without having to worry that you might be missing something. The power is that you can speak with authority on matters you don’t really understand as well as you think you do to prop up your position without the data or experience to really back it up. You can put down dissent, saying they don’t know what they are talking about because your experience is different from theirs and because you have all the answers already there isn’t much need to listen to anyone else. You can speak generally of large groups of people as if they all believe the same, act the same, and feel the same when they don’t.
Making generalizations and assumptions is actually necessary when discussing complex and broad situations because you just cannot hit every angle on an issue from every perspective or know what everyone thinks. It just isn’t possible. But it is important to recognize the limitations of your own experience and perception and how that influences the way you communicate about a particular topic.
So here is how you guard against going too far in your generalizations and assumptions. Recognize your limitations. Listen for truth in those who dissent. Compliment those who disagree with you where you can. Be Jesus to everyone. Pray for your enemies and be careful with generalizations and assumptions…they are necessary but dangerous. They have a lot of power but when used inappropriately hinder having a Christ-like dialog because it can keep us from listening to outside perspectives and ensures us that in the end our position will win out whether that is justified or not. And most people love the feeling of winning the argument, right?
Last, be careful assuming that someone is making generalizations when they are actually being specific, just hitting one angle of a particular topic. This happens when someone points out an issue and then other people think that person is saying everyone is like that or thinks like that or acts like that when that is not what is being said at all.